I just read the following little newscast from the Onion, and it was just enough to finally get me off my duff to write about Oscar Pistorius, our friendly neighborhood Transhuman Technodoper. I covered Oscar's situation some last year, in the previous link and this one, but I kind of stopped paying attention to it.
Thank goodness The Science of Sport didn't. I'm willing to bet that no blog, let alone news site, has covered Oscar Pistorius's challenge to be allowed to run in able-bodied competition more thoroughly and responsibly than Jonathan and Ross have. I highly encourage you to check out the breakdown linked above if you are interested in this story.
As you can tell from the title of the Onion piece, Oscar Pistorius has been banned from competition by the IAAF (official press release here). As before, I continue to applaud the IAAF's approach to handling this situation, and I fully support the ban given the evidence discovered during the tests. Here are some highlights:
- Main Finding: Oscar Pistorius is able to run at the same speed as able-bodied sprinters with about 25% less energy expenditure
- The prosthetic blade returns three times the energy of the human ankle joint in maximum sprinting
- The maximum vertical ground reaction forces and the vertical impulses are highly different in a significant way, leading to never before measured amounts of energy return from a human ankle during maximum sprinting
- Energy loss by the prosthetic blade is 9.3%, while that of able-bodied athletes is measured at 41.4%, showing a greater than 30% advantage for the prosthetic blades over a human ankle
I won't go into detail as to what these mean, but the coverage at The Science of Sport does a wonderful job of that. I should also note that Oscar is challenging the ruling, but as usual, The Science of Sport is right there with expert commentary on this development.
The more interesting question to me is this: now that having two prosthetic limbs has been shown to be such an advantage, how long is it before athletes with just one prosthetic limb petition Oscar to be banned from the Paralympics due to his unfair advantage? Or am I just a cynical schmoe to think Paralympic athletes would let winning get in the way of the Olympic ideal?
I want to end this by saying that, in my heart of hearts, I wish Oscar's device hadn't been shown to be such an advantage, because all this focus on technology diverts all attention from the fact that Oscar lives an Optimal Training lifestyle. The man eats, breathes, and lives track and field. Unfortunately, when you're a Technodoper and a Transhuman, that's all people care to focus on.
Ooh, I know, maybe Ossur can develop a device that is proven to be exactly equivalent to a human ankle? Think about the glorious chaos that would create! (Assuming Oscar didn't lose like 10 seconds on his 400 time...)